Recent Posts



Replacing Teeth – Weighing Your Choices

Posted on Dec 29, 2015 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

While today’s dentistry offers a number of excellent methods for replacing teeth, there are advantages and disadvantages to each option. It is my goal to help patients understand why we recommend Dental Implants so they can determine what is best for their needs.

Missing teeth can be replaced with crown-&-bridge combinations, partial or full dentures, or dental implants. Crown-&-bridge is only possible when natural teeth border both sides of the area of missing teeth since crowned, natural teeth are the bridge’s support.

A partial denture does not require teeth on each side for support. However, it does need teeth on one side to provide support for clasps or framework that attach to adjacent, natural teeth.

A full denture replaces a teeth for those who have lost all of their upper and/or lower teeth. These teeth are held by a base that mimics gums, which is contoured to the shape and size of your ridge. The ridge, which is actually the jaw bone covered by gum tissue, is the raised arch that once supported natural tooth roots.

In these options, the absence of natural tooth roots leaves the gum ridge without the stimulation that once kept it healthy. Thus, the bone will eventually begin to shrink in height and mass.

The pressure of wearing dentures or partials accelerates the pace of bone loss. For those who sleep in their denture or partials, the 24/7 pressure speeds up the rate of bone loss even more.

As the bone declines, the fit of the denture or partial changes. Slips become common when eating, often rubbing sore spots on gum tissues. Although a crown-&-bridge will not slip, bone loss will be apparent when an open space develops below the bridge.

Because Dental Implants are placed in the jaw bone, they recreate the stimulation of tooth roots. This halts bone loss and preserves the stability of your bite as well as a healthy facial structure.

Dental Implants are also designed to last your lifetime. With proper care, they will never need removal or replacement. They do not need the support of adjacent teeth and actually help preserve the integrity of other teeth.

The downside? The cost is higher than other tooth replacement options. However, over time, they are a far better investment. With the upfront cost being the ONLY problem associated with Dental Implants, the fact that it is a ‘one and done’ expense (with a lifetime of benefits) really makes them a better choice compared to other tooth replacement options.

If you are missing natural teeth and would like to discuss replacement with Dental Implants, call 828-274-9440 to schedule a consultation. During this time, we’ll discuss how Dental Implants may be the perfect choice!

Afraid Of Dental Visits? Fear Only Makes Problems Worse.

Posted on Dec 14, 2015 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Fear is one of the biggest factors when it comes to reasons that people avoid dental care. While expenses are an issue for a number of Americans, fear is the culprit that prevents most adults in the U.S. (up to one-third, it is estimated), from having regular dental care.

Avoiding the dentist is a sure way for bigger problems. When the hygienist is not able to remove plaque that has accumulated on teeth every six months, it continues to grow. This typically results in cavities and early stage periodontal (gum) disease.

Repairing a small cavity or treating gingivitis (the initial level of gum disease) requires minimal time and expense. However, many individuals who have dental fear avoid going to the dentist for years. Often, they only end up in a dental chair when they have developed a problem that is so painful they are forced to endure fear’s grip in lieu of pain relief.

When cavities form, pain (or an ache) develops, signaling a problem. Most people realize that this discomfort will only intensify without treatment. On the other hand, gum disease begins without obvious symptoms. Those that do arise, such as gums that bleed when brushing or receded gums, are often associated with aging or even deemed normal. These misconceptions merely allow these problems to worsen.

Here is where things get more complicated for adults with dental fear. When problems do arise, delayed treatment enables these problems to worsen. As a cavity deepens or gum disease intensifies, treatment requirements become more complex with procedures needed often more costly and time-consuming. Unfortunately, post-treatment tenderness is also a lengthier process. This tends to reinforce a fearful patient’s stance of avoiding dental care.

When I take my car in for its regular servicing, I have to devote several hours of time and be prepared for associated expenses. Oil changes, tire rotations, fluid checks, etc. aren’t anything I want to pay for and, like most adults, have little time to devote while these processes take place. However, I know the problems that can occur when these areas are not tended to. I also know that, by delaying them, I’m placing myself at risk for being stranded beside the road or having an accident. So, we car owners force ourselves to endure for the good of our investment.

Your smile deserves no less. If dental fears are preventing you from having a clean, healthy smile and fresh breath, don’t wait until you are in dire straits. Make every attempt to keep your 6-month dental check-ups. These visits will be quicker and far less expensive than to take care of what’s likely coming from avoiding care.

Want an added incentive to go along with cost savings and shorter time? Dental cleanings and repairs are more comfortable for people with healthy gums. When plaque is present, the gums are more inflamed. This makes them tender. Regular dental visits will keep your smile in good health and save you money over time.

So, how do you overcome dental fears to have regular care? It begins by finding the right dentist to care for your needs. Begin by calling several offices and explain your concerns. If the receptionist is adept at discussing their protocol for fearful patients, you’ll know this is a dental office that is experienced caring for adults with high anxiety and fear levels.

You may wish to begin with a consultation appointment. This will enable you and the dentist to discuss your needs and their process to help ease you through what is necessary to begin. The doctor should make you feel at ease, unrushed and answer your questions in easy-to-understand terms.

We see a number of patients who have gum disease or need Dental Implants because their fears have led to lost teeth. While we can provide medications to help these patients relax, our goal is to help them overcome their fears through a relationship of trust. Once they understand we are highly sensitive to the unique needs of patients with dental fear, many relax. We pride ourselves on a gentle touch, and that goes for all patients.

Let’s begin with a conversation in our consultation room. This is a living room setting that’s away from the clinical area. We can sit and chat, after which time you can determine how you’d like to proceed, or if you would like to do so. Call 828-274-9440 to arrange a time that’s best for you.

Master The Fine Art Of Flossing

Posted on Dec 08, 2015 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

If you don’t know how to ice skate, watching someone who does can be mesmerizing. Seeing a skater glide easily across the ice on a thin blade, turning and shifting with seemingly little effort, makes one rather envious.

When I try to urge a patient who has never flossed to do so, and to do it every day, I used to be so perplexed at their resistance. “Wonder why this is such a big deal?” I’d think. Yet, to me flossing is as natural a motion as gliding across the ice is to an ice skater.

As a periodontist, I’m naturally a proponent of flossing as a valuable aid in removing food particles and bacteria buildup from the mouth. Flossing dislodges bits of food stuck between teeth and scrapes the edges where a tooth brush has difficulty reaching.

People who floss on a daily basis require only a minute or so. Many don’t need a mirror since they can ‘feel’ their way along. Some floss while watching television, reading or catching up on emails. However, be prepared to rely on a mirror until you’ve mastered the technique. The point is, flossing, once a habit, can be a simple action that blends easily into one’s day.

Flossing is best done with about 18 inches of floss. We recommend unwaxed but people with tight teeth find waxed helps them to avoid having the floss ‘pop’ between teeth and cut into tender gum tissues. Wrap both ends of the floss around the forefingers. You’ll use your thumbs and middle fingers to help maneuver the floss.

The key to flossing is to slowly move it back and forth teeth to get in-between and then scrape down each tooth’s side several times. Move the floss just slightly below the line where teeth meet gum tissues to dislodge bacteria at the base of teeth. Adjust the floss so you have a clean section after flossing every 3-4 teeth. Be sure to scrape the backs of molars (or the farthest back teeth) on top and bottom.

For those who try to floss and find it too difficult, we recommend purchasing one of the electronic flossers on the market today. These are effective and do a good job at removing debris and oral bacteria from the mouth. If you can’t handle traditional floss, these are the next best thing.

Flossing helps to lower oral bacteria that can accumulate and lead to cavities, gum disease and eventual tooth loss. This can save you treatment time and expense. Another incentive is (drum roll) you’ll be so much more comfortable during your dental cleanings! Healthy gums are not as sensitive and gum probing and any scraping needed will be an easy process for you!

Make a commitment to be a flosser! Add daily flossing to your New Year’s Resolutions. You’ll be rewarded with a healthier mouth and possibly prevent costly problems.

Begin the new year with a clean mouth by calling 828-274-9440 to arrange an examination and cleaning. Our Hygienist will be happy to give you flossing instructions while we get your mouth to a healthy state.

Easy Ways To Lower Your Costs For Dental Needs

Posted on Dec 01, 2015 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

It is wise to care for our health (and the health of our loved ones) by taking proactive measures. Having annual exams and screenings can help prevent or minimize expenses for more-complex needs in the future. As a dental specialist, I see firsthand the many problems (and subsequent expenses), many that could have been avoided in the first place. Spending a few minutes each day and having 6-month exams and cleanings can save you greatly.pigbank

It’s actually easy to prevent oral problems and costs for repairs. Your regular oral hygiene visits are opportunities to remove buildup that can lead to problems. They can also catch problems that may have arisen since your last visit. Early treatment will help you minimize time and expenses needed for repairs.

Your home care regimen can help you avoid problems by keeping oral bacteria under control. You may feel that twice-daily brushing and flossing routines have minimal impact on avoiding problems. However, these steps are actually very effective in reducing oral bacteria and preventing buildup. Be sure to brush twice a day (for at least two minutes) using a soft to medium bristle brush and fluoridated tooth paste.

Flossing is another powerful way to reduce bacteria in the mouth. Even after brushing, food particles can remain between teeth. These particles literally rot over a day’s time. Oral bacteria feed on this and quickly reproduce. This is why you feel a sticky coating on teeth and gums, known as plaque. Plaque is an accumulation of oral bacteria.

Daily flossing takes only a minute or so once you are in the habit. Our hygienist can demonstrate how to comfortably hold floss and move it easily between teeth (even those hard-to-reach teeth). If preferred, an electronic flosser can be purchased to make the task easy yet effective. These are especially helpful for people with dexterity problems, such as adults with RA.

Dry mouth is a another reason for oral bacteria growth. Saliva in the mouth continually rinse oral bacteria away. When saliva levels are low, these bacteria can multiply quickly. Smoking, alcohol, caffeine, some medications and mouth breathing (such as snoring) are all drying to oral tissues. Some health conditions, including anemia, hypertension, arthritis and diabetes, also have symptoms of dry mouth.

Dry mouth can be improved by drinking plenty of water and using an over-the-counter oral rinse designed for those with dry mouth. If you are taking medications that have drying side effects, ask your doctor about alternative options.

Oral bacteria can also be reduced by using a tongue scraper. This uproots deeply-embedded bacteria in the tongue. Scrape 2 or 3 times over the tongue, starting at the back of the tongue where most bacteria exist. Scrape forward and rinse after each pass. An alternative is to brush your tongue after each tooth brushing.

To protect the tooth’s protective shell of enamel, avoid brushing right after eating. Whenever you consume food or beverages, an acid attack begins in your mouth as part of the digestive process. Unfortunately, these acids soften tooth enamel for about 30 minutes after eating. Brushing can wear away this precious enamel so wait 30 minutes after eating before you brush.

Crowning a tooth before problems begin can prevent costly future problems, including tooth loss. Missing teeth affect the alignment of neighboring teeth, increasing the risk for broken, chipped or worn teeth as well as migraines, sore jaw joints and ear ringing.

Be committed to spending wisely this year by being committed to your dental health every day. You’ll likely spend far less over time while enjoying a confident, healthy mouth and appealing smile.

If you are experiencing problems with missing teeth or have tender gums, call 828-274-9440 for an appointment.